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Old 2019-08-08, 13:15   #1
Deviro
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Question 7K words about PR and me


03/08/19:
I want to preface this whole thing by saying that I’m well aware that I’m a nobody in the larger picture when it comes to the PR scene. I haven’t done enough to earn an opinion that others should pay attention to. I’m aware this is a weird thing to read for you at the beginning of a long post and weirder for me to write it. I consider myself as part of the silent majority, but with this essay I guess I’m breaking that. Delving deeper into this piece will hopefully make you understand why I’ve decided to do this. I just want to respectfully ask an hour of your time.

[Recommended soundtrack: Avril 14th by Aphex Twin]

17/07:
I've been meaning to "do something" about PR for a while. A year maybe even. The documentary was a bust for many reasons, but mainly because I lacked the character and discipline to actually go through with something like that. After cancelling it I started planning to interview people about the “death of PR”. It was an important topic that I started paying more and more attention to even before I told anybody I was making a documentary. Then that interview series got scaled back to just me going over and over this “urgent” matter endlessly in my mind for months.

But now things are a bit different. Last year about this time I thought I could finish the whole documentary thing before this summer. I was supposed enjoy my vacation in Bulgaria where I would visit my grandparents in their small village. And here I am typing this there. Right now, I'm staring out the window of my childhood home where I would sit at endlessly each winter. It feels like several lives ago. Like it happened to somebody else and I'm somehow intimately familiar with the details.

But no, it happened to me, I was that person. I haven’t been in this room for 8 years since I moved to the UK and haven’t lived in this house for 8 more. Somethings haven't changed even a bit around here. The house is nicer, the people are older. Some childhood friends married and moved out. New-born babies I vaguely remember existing back then are now talking to me about playing GTAV in their school.

Why am I even telling you about all of this? I don’t have the most interesting life story to tell you. But I do want to encourage you to tell yours. In a way everybody grows up in a fucked up way, but we realize it too late. I for example in the last few years started to really appreciate the fact that my parents wanted the best for me. They did everything they could to give me a normal upbringing. But we never had the means or opportunity to do that. And that's fine, they tried, I still love them. My mother has done more for me than she will ever do for herself. She created the illusion of normal life for me as long as she could. That illusion starts breaking when your parents or strangers start telling you how difficult and scary life will be.

18/07:
Around my teens I realized people were treating me a little bit differently. They were being nicer to me than others kids and were for some reason concerned about my wellbeing. Until then I was a normal child, but as time went, I became aware I had a different path than most.

That meant I wouldn't go to the army. It would mean I would never become “a real man”. Sounds stupider when you write it down. I come from a more old-fashioned part of the country. People are simple here, with basic worries: how is the crop this year, how much drought will there be this summer, is the government going to fix the roads finally? The kindergarten I used to go here is closed, the school my mom used to go was gone way before me. The infrastructure is failing and there're less and less reasons to stay here.

But I'm enjoying my time here. There’re no telephone lines here, but Internet is. The 3 weeks of vacation I get might not even be enough. In a way this is a surreal experience for me to be here. This is what I needed after spending so much time in the same room for months sometimes. The days would blend together and I would start forgetting which day of the week it is.

No school, no job. The only moments I would realize some kind of time is passing would be when I brush my teeth and when I’m laying down on my bed at night. My life is simple and I don't usually crave the outside. I like the little virtual world I've built for myself. The neatly arranged desktop icons, the three pinned websites when I open the browser and the sequentially ordered programs on my taskbar.

When it was a few days until I had to get on a plane to come here, I kind a panicked. I don't like flying, but this was even worse. Weird stuff started to happen to me. My implanted tooth fell when I was rinsing my mouth. A friend of mine had issues with his gf, who I did my best to help. I flew a chopper for the first time in PR in a public match without much prior practice and it went well. I was living my life to the fullest in a way.

I even made my own version of a dead man's harddrive, by giving a friend of mine a passworded file with intimate information that would be accessible after it was apparent that I died. I was watching a TV show where the main character would repeat the same day over and over again and that made me think about what would I do if I had the chance to change the future. I watched a movie about successfully landing a plane in a river, which strangely made me less afraid to fly.

I did some weird shit there. I still feel weird. Selfish even. But coming back here, the peace this place has inflicted on me has changed me as a person. At least a little bit. I'm still going to be the same introverted guy who gets a bit too excited when people start paying attention to him. But typing this, I wouldn’t be surprised if people notice there's something different about me. Because I do feel different: I'm a bit more accepting of things in general.

My plan was to come here and type a long essay about why we shouldn't let PR die. In my little, dimly lit room I tried to convey my feelings and thoughts numerous times. Drafts and drafts. Every one more pessimistic and more emotional than the last. More personal, trying to make people act to save PR. Spread a message that never had a clear plan behind it on how to actually execute it.

"Save Project Reality" is a slogan I can get behind, but every time I typed something like it, I was scared I could hurt the game. A selfish part of me would really love to believe I have that power. To save or hurt a game, make some kind of an impact. Coming here I've realized I would rather change people than the game itself. But even that power is a double-edged sword. This could and probably will be used against me at some point by some assholes. But I realize who I should actually talk to: the sensible people left in this community who have a genuine positive impact.

I've thought a lot about what can be done, the larger picture. I don't think I have any realistic solutions or remedies. I can repeat a lot of wisdoms that we all can come to by ourselves. "Be good to each other, be a better community" is the type of stuff I wrote in my drafts in the past months. That doesn't cut it.

I don’t want to be preachy. I don’t want to emotionally manipulate you. I don't want to claim I have the one and only truth we should abide by. Because my perspective is somewhat limited. Mostly by my proximity to PRTA and not having played more the spiritual successors of PR, which I will come to later.

Nothing lasts forever. If anything, I'm surprised PR has survived for this long. Because in many regards, it wasn’t supposed to. The older generations of PR devs always wanted to branch out. To different games, engines and maybe even concepts. But PR is still here. It's kind of amazing how many obstacles and dramas we've (and especially, some of you) witnessed and are still here for some reason.

Why PR:BF2 remained the most beloved version of PR is that it had the snowball effect of being the oldest version. By default, it always had more time and resources poured into it. Even when the devs tried to port the concept to ArmA and other places. Let's also not forget that PR wouldn’t be what it is without BF2 – it was the perfect game. And PR, the perfect idea: both combined together to make something truly special.

I also want to point out the ingenuity some moders came up with, which gave us gameplay systems like kits, deployables, AAS and many other things BF2 wasn’t designed to do. Those people displayed some real technical creativity in finding workarounds in a web of systems in order to create this total concept modification. Would love to list some names here, but there’s literally too many of them!

20/07:
There are other reasons why PR has survived though. The most common answer to the age-old question "Why keep playing?" is still: “there's nothing quite like it out there”. PR successfully carried over BF2's “jump in and play” type of consumption. PR is what PR is and we don't really question what it should be. Other games like ArmA are a lot more micro community driven. More customizable and mod driven, which fractures the playerbase into tiny segments that rarely interact with each other. In PR we have less branches to distract us from the core game.

By the way I'm sorry I have to compare ArmA and PR to each other so much, but that's kind of the extent of the mil sim genre. Hell, plenty of times I've been told PR is not a mil sim. I totally see the points people make, but I also can't compare it to games in the larger tactical genre. The scale is way bigger than R6 or CS and the gameplay a lot more warried than Ghost Recon or SOCOM.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that the tactical shooter genre itself didn’t do great circa 2007-2012 or about there-ish. Will have to make some assumptions and educated guesses here to convey this point. PR was the ultimate mod for BF2. Everything was touched up: assets, game modes, sounds, graphics. There’s very little vanilla BF2 content left in PR these days. It absorbed a large amount of attention for its scale of vision.

PR also remained as crown of the BF moding scene for that long because moding support was dying. It never went away, but it was a shadow of its former self. I was personally incredibly excited about BF3's announcement. But the moding part never came with it. I don’t want to blame the 7th generation of consoles for lacking of moding in PC gaming at the time, but rather the devs. And maybe they had a reason to cut costs and features. So, I will just blame the economic crisis.

But let's be serious here: it was the generation that introduced MP gaming to consoles. It was a no brainer to make them (Bad Company anybody?). Neglecting (and sometimes ignoring) the PC market was a mistake, but the benefits are being sown now by everybody: PC gaming is at its best and more is on the horizon (ray tracing and AI). If anything, focusing so much on consoles became the downfall of that gen, because when it was time to leave it behind, a lot of damage was already done and trust had to be rebuilt.

But PC gaming was bound to come back. The consoles aged and more attention was starting to be allocated to PC ports, because they were becoming the bigger and better versions (think of BF3 on 360/PS3). Some incredibly forward-thinking people saw that and invested early into efforts like UE4, which is becoming the Source of our generation, but even better.

Yes, let's talk about SQUAD. Honestly, even as I type this, I dread talking about it. I think it's a pretty complex topic and tied much closer to PR than we would like to admit sometimes. I say that because, amidst all the circlejerking and "hate" this thing is getting, there're lots of things to pay attention to.

In many ways I admire the fact that a bunch of PR devs (past and present at the time) just decided to make something. Not wait for PR2 (oh God) or something else to magically sprung out of the ground and continue PR’s legacy. No, they took a chance on UE4 and Kickstarter. Looking back, not the most rock-solid way to make a successor to a 10 year old mod. Maybe both of these things were their first mistake.

But where did it all go wrong? I don’t think there's a specific moment I can pinpoint to. OWI is a private company and it’s hard to tell what caused this. But the public version of events we will know and remember it by is the slow development process of SQUAD. And I say that being in the PR community, where nothing good happens on time. That's in the nature of moding: it's voluntary work (and I do mean that) and takes longer than a commercial game. But SQUAD was the commercial chance for PR to expand beyond being just a mod (PR2 never got off the ground it seems).

A counter argument I would like to make is the history of Trauma Studios. Yes, those guys, without whom BF2 wouldn't be what it is and therefore PR as well. They made the Desert Combat mod for BF1942, which was also very popular in its day. They inspired and eventually helped DICE prototype BF2 after being acquired by them for half a mill. But they got totally shunted before BF2 even shipped. But the people founded a new studio under the name Kaos Studios, a new arm of THQ (olden).

And well, let me tell you how unready they were to make a AAA game called Homefront. As many ideas and much talent they might've had, transitioning from moding to commercial/AAA was a difficult process to adjust to. Many moder's dream is to make "real" games one day. It's a gateway into game development. But it's not always easy or smooth. And you can see where I'm going with it: as much as I love PR and the work done by its talented dev members – the transition to SQUAD doesn't feel right.

But should we as a community give them a bit of a leeway? Maybe. As I eluded to this earlier: the question of "what the hell happened?" is a lot harder to answer and the arguments are back and forth. No matter which side you are on after all that said, I still can't be bothered to be outraged about what OWI have done here. I'm disappointed. But me being mad is not going to move things forward.

Dwelling on what-ifs is largely pointless, but sometimes I can't stop but wonder how different things would’ve been be if SQUAD didn't exist. What if everybody just stayed as a big family and continued developing this great mod we call PR. But, that's a pointless fantasy, because reality is much scarier and dynamic than friends coming together to have some fun.

Conflict, decay and whatever other negative things you can associate with the small village I'm in right now, also apply to PR, your circle of friends, neighborhood, whatever. Not to mention that some who had already left and stopped contributing to PR came back to develop SQUAD. It's a little bit cruel to expect perfection from people and then call them traitors or frauds when they fuck up. Mistakes were made, no doubt, but I have a feeling most of us were too late to spot them. I give people the benefit of the doubt and allow them to be stupid. But I don't want to allow anybody to be malicious, which I don't think is the case with OWI.

I love PR so dearly. No game has given me so much for so little. No game has given me a big circle of friends as it did. "PR is life" (or at least gaming life) and that type of phraseology is used by many of us. It's kind of a lifestyle. Once you are sucked in, it's hard to break out. Most people reading this can sympathize with these statements. In previous drafts I started to compare PR to World of Warcraft. Yes, a chuckle might be warranted here, but I can't get that comparison out of my head. For some of us PR is our MMO. And you know what they say about those: the first one is always the best one, most cherished.

Some side by side aspects don’t match at all, I'm well aware. We are at heart playing a competitive tactical shooter, which is as far as you can get away from a grindy, loot driven RPG. But we do roleplay, we do learn many new skills, join clans and what not. Invest ourselves into an ecosystem.

My biggest regret about PR will forever be not being here earlier. I wish I learned English sooner, was a little bit more inquisitive, gave things a bigger chance. But I'm flawed. I'm incredibly flawed. I have just as many negative traits about me as positive ones. As of late I'm making strides towards one from the latter category: namely the "don't delay shit" one.

01/08:
As with other long projects I’ve worked on, staring this long and this close at the work I’ve done makes me unable to see the larger puzzle I’ve assembled here. That little voice always finds its way into my head, telling me to give up. So, I want to do my best by getting this out there. Not be shy, or at least less than the usual. Writing something like this and then tweaking it takes a long time. This is the farthest I’ve made into one of these “drafts”. At least conveyed the most and best succinctly (which are two words that don’t go together that well). It’s always scary to think about what happens after the light. Sometimes it’s worth it, sometimes not so much.

20/07:
I will stop that emotional tirade there, before it gets really bad, like my other drafts, which are super cringey. One of my main focuses with this essay is to keep things grounded and realistic. I might've already failed. You tell me. I know people hate long walls of text, but honestly, I don't know how else I'm supposed to tell you how I feel. A few paragraphs are just not enough to convey the amount of information I'm trying to here.

Ever since last year, around this time, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about PR and the larger picture it fits in. While I don’t want to see it "die" per say, I don’t even know if it's "living". I sound like those people who I hate and who proclaim every game is dead after they stop playing it (because deep down they are dead inside, or so my insult goes). With the few thousand unique players we have each month, I can't in good conscience declare PR as dead, but I can't say we are thriving either. Talking about player numbers is a very dangerous game. In videogames land, it's the opposite of automobile accident statistics: the safer you say the roads are, the more reckless people become and increase those accident numbers.

Sometimes we like to feel sorry for ourselves by endlessly speculating when a game will die, not realizing that's exactly what a more casual fan doesn't want to hear: how soon will their investment (money and time) be completely worthless. It's what killed LawBreakers. The game was fine and unfortunately competing with Overwatch, but what really dwindled those numbers down was everybody talking about how this week there's even less people playing it. A similar fate, but to a lesser degree recently occurred to Valve's Artifact. Also, I’m aware of the irony with it: Valve somehow forgot how to support a “live service game”, after supporting 3 of them for 6 years and not make anything else.

I'm all for freedom of information and transparency, but why can't we enjoy things for what they are? Which is what's kept PR alive for this long. The game is affected much less by doom and gloom player number statistics because there's nothing else in there to do but play it. No competitive ladders to climb; cosmetics and achievements to grind; ranks to earn based on time invested. Whatever you put in is what you get out of it.

I for one am a great medic in PR. Whenever I'm exceptional and people say "Thank you" or "Good job" I truly take it to heart. I get a certain type of social fulfilment that other games don’t give me. And I think that's true for a lot of people. The social aspect of PR might be its biggest innovation. By design or accident, the community embraced the Mumble system we take for granted these days. And some communities rightfully chose to make it a requirement for all players in their servers. Communication breeds character into these 3D models with actual humans on the other side.

Which brings me to the community of ours and how it relates to the other games inspired by PR: SQUAD, Hell Let Loose, PR:BF3, Post Scriptum. The biggest reason I can't invest more time into them is content. SQUAD has the most in that group of games and all of it still doesn’t even come close to PR's. Not just maps or factions. But systems in general are missing (commanders) or lack polish and tweaking (vehicles), which makes them frustrating to use.

But the second biggest reason is the community. Which is just not “there” yet. In SQUAD things are always changing (with updates and stuff) and the community itself doesn't have time to fully develop metas. Choppers will disrupt things again very soon for example and I wouldn’t be surprised if the matches don’t depend on who has the better pilots.

By all means, keep fleshing things out, add new things, necessary things. But 4 years is a long time and people will be tired of waiting and especially older PR players might become apprehensive about becoming more active. We are just starting to see some real results and decisions that are positively impacting the SQUAD community (tutorials and tweaking spawn systems).

PR itself sure took its sweet time to mature and for things to settle down. I hope OWI can emulate that in SQUAD. I personally believe they are on a positive track. The last 2 years were a bit bumpy, but this year they are picking up pace and want to deliver a v1.0.

But I'm most curious as to what happens after that. PR's main focus was always its BF2 version and everything else was secondary. But for OWI that's not going to be the case, at least by what I can tell. They are a game studio after all. Nobody likes working on a single idea forever (unless your game is a cash-cow like LOL, which SQUAD isn’t). They will focus less and less on SQUAD until they have something else to put their efforts in.

What will happen by then? Will the SQUAD player base figure itself out? What about these other games? Will all of these games cultivate real communities that will take care of themselves?

22/07:
Honestly, that's all I can really hope for. But it's not realistic to expect for every community to become like ours: small but stable. If I've learned anything about this industry, is that things take a long time to come together. Why is PR the way PR is depends on a lot of factors I went through before. It's not a farfetched idea that all of these games will eventually become their own things, no matter how similar they might be to PR. You can't really replicate the success of something somewhere else. History is written only once, but even when it seems to repeat itself, the details are different.

Here I want to insert some thoughts about jealousy. All of these newer and shiner games have made some people jealous, because they get the credit, popularity and media attention. And PR is just this forgotten husk of an ugly and toxic environment. Does any of that even matter? Does that take away anything from us? I would point to the contrary actually. I've met people in PR who said they heard about us through SQUAD or PS. That doesn't mean those games are marketing tools for PR, but it shows to me that a game like PR will remain great in other people's minds no matter what.

And by "not matter what" I mean until those games become great as well. I really don't care if anybody looks through the history of SQUAD and where it came from. I don’t go around being mad at people for not looking at the PR Timeline I made. By that logic we should all go and try to resurrect the Desert Combat mod for BF1942. I'm a say "live and let live" on that one.

I also want PR to get media attention, but we often don’t get to choose what kind it is. It could result in our shutdown or the release of Refractor 2 engine' source code for all I know. I would keep my head down. Even typing that sentence is dangerous in my opinion. Knowing how EA shutdowns shit all the time, nobody is sure how've evaded their radar this long. But my gut tells me they would've closed this whole operation a while ago if they wanted to, before GameSpy and ReviveBF2.

Another what-if I think about often is "what would ('ve) happen (ed) if Refractor 2 is (was) made public"? Looking at how that engine was milked, even when Frostbite was the main technology DICE was using, when BF Heroes/P4F were around: it's unrealistic to expect them to just give it away like id Tech is. DICE didn't really license their engine, until Frostbite was made and could be used on racing and RPG games.

It Refractor was given away though, no doubt that would’ve had a major effect on how PR evolved. Firstly, PR would’ve been kept more modern as the years went on by. And secondly a healthier BF moding scene would’ve benefited us directly. I would still like to imagine one day that will happen. It all depends on how copyright, license, IP and patent holding laws change. I'm going to be hopeful, even with the way the world is heading towards to (Disney). Not sure how much impact it would have on PR if it happens in the “waay future” though. Our game would have to be there to tell the tale.

On the other hand, we have the topic of moding BF3 with Frostbite, which is an even more complicated topic that I'm super curious how it evolves. PR:BF3 is exciting on its own right, but moding in Frostbite is the real story here. In many ways I can see BF3 becoming the new home of PR. The amount of work required to do that is probably no even comparable to PR:BF2. Even if everybody chips in it would probably take 10 years.

Anybody who knows anything about game dev will tell you that half the battle is creating the tools for production. The rest is design, content and finally putting it all together which is often described as "landing a plane on fire". Not a job for people like me.

One thing I actually want other people's opinion on is on the topic of streamer culture surrounding games like PR and SQUAD. I kind of cringe whenever I watch people “unrelated to our scene” play "our” games on Twitch because they are the “next big thing in the tactical shooter genre”, but... let's be honest: that's a shitty outlook and I want to get rid of it. It makes me look like a hipster and not the good kind. Really though, it’s the jealousy thing I talked about.

An actual problem I see generating is stream sniping. In my humble ignorant opinion this phenomenon is a much bigger issue in a game with 99 other people who put a lot of effort in this delicate tug of war. These games are inherently competitive and one way they are different from other games is obfuscating as much as possible information about the enemy and creating a reliance on real voice communication. My question is what can be done to minimize this? Delays are the obvious answer, but streamers don't like doing that.

On one hand I don't want my games to be ruined by this kind of shit. I just have to look at how Bluedrake used to get trolled. He is a playful guy in general, but even he was frustrated by that and stopped streaming PR. I much prefer the medium of YouTube, where you can cut the boring parts. I realize I'm telling other people how to do their jobs here. Feel free to bring me a few notches down on this one.

Here's a nitpick: I think most early access games on Steam are trash. Not because they lack content, but because they are not fun. Not yet at least. One thing I really took from the developer of Spy Party is that his game was already fun very early in development. But fleshing that out and adding more depth to it was difficult (especially for a 1-man team).

And I have to tell you, SQUAD is not that fun. It doesn't have that much depth. Yet. I have to say that especially about Post Scriptum. That game is still not in 1.0 stage and I don't understand why it was never in Early Access. On the other hand, we have Hell Let Loose, which is lacking content, but it knows what it is and is tuned to be fun with what's already there. It's a self-aware game.

I especially can't say that about the earlier versions of SQUAD. That game was not fun at all 2-3 years ago. The reason why I used jump in at every Alpha milestone was to check out their progress and new content. It was nowhere near a good candidate to snatch me away from PR. And I can't stress enough how bad it is for games in perpetual Early Access to keep themselves alive on content alone. And I’ve seen people treat SQUAD that way.

This especially happens to SP games. MP ones can get away with it because they are intrinsically social experiences. And especially games like PR attract more social people. I'm not trying to make a big deal out of this, but SQUAD needs to keep becoming a deeper game and promote more social interactions between its players. Being a “stickier” game is more important than having content.

While we are on the topic of "more stuff", can I emphasize the importance of moding? I'm very glad OWI is paying close attention to mods and is open to adding community made stuff into the main game. How that stuff is chosen and compensated for is a whole another essay that I'm not even qualified to write about right now.

I'm so glad about the new auto mod downloading feature OWI added recently to SQUAD (ala Source engine games). That is a big barrier between people and mods gone.

24/07:
While I was trying to finish putting every point I wanted to make in the article, I stumbled upon a Reddit post which was proposing something I’ve already seen but kind a forgot to include here, so here are my thoughts about a hypothetical PR mod for SQUAD.

As things stand right now, SQUAD would totally be my next “home” per say if PR died today and right here. It’s the closest thing we have to PR and it’s the furthest one along in this new generation of PR successors. That last word is important, because Merlin himself talks about that in the post. He says that from the get go SQUAD’s goal was not to be a sequel, but a spiritual successor.

While that’s not a new point to keep in mind, he reminded me of the fact that SQUAD is not necessarily going for the realism aspect PR did so many years ago. PR was the darling of the moding scene when it comes to how realistic vanilla BF2 could be made. It was definitely an objective the devs pursued. I think that’s pretty apparent if you look at the very early years.

But SQUAD isn’t and apparently wasn’t. But it did go for the teamwork and communication aspect, which are the two words that stand between every DNA strand of PR. Which makes me want to question how couldn’t they cultivate that “culture”, as Merlin put it, in SQUAD?

Because in my opinion, that culture is everything that’s right about PR. Also that leads to people “ranking up” in the community. It’s been a crucial aspect as to why PR survived for this long. It’s a community driven game, unlike other devs who control every little aspect of their creation (like Overwatch or something). It’s old-school. Normal players eventually become squad leaders and they eventually become admins/moderators and then community managers and then moders themselves and after that developers. Some steps might be skipped there, but that’s how PR has been kept alive this whole time.

People step up and contribute. This is what should happen to SQUAD. Especially after OWI switches its focus on something else. As many great people have left the PR community, somebody always replaces them. Otherwise things wouldn’t work properly. I say that with us waiting half a decade for PR:WW2 to be fully integrated into main PR.

The reason for the wait is a shortage of specialized devs, but my point half stands on one leg since every PR release is less ambitious than the last. Thus, requiring less people and allowing for more to leave the community behind them. Yeah, my point just fell on its arse there I think. But the community is also more patient and less needy, there’s my counter argument.

My point is: a culture of responsibility and self-sacrifice must be bred. And I know how that sounds on paper. I’m not trying to turn a gaming community into a totalitarian micro society here. What I’m saying is: people are not going to stuck to a shallow game forever. Something else will catch their eye and it better not give them what you don’t have.

The more you give, the more you get in life. Helping other people pick themselves up and become bigger and better characters is not something everybody does. Truly great squad leaders (like Filamu, sorry for burdening you with this responsibility) are the bridge between total newbies (like I was in 2015) and those who see something more in a game like this. A greater purpose to serve, lead by example and cultivate meaningful relationships.

Is SQUAD going to do that? Can a PR mod for it patch that gap? Merlin was actually a great sport in that post. Here I was going to say how ironic it would be for people to make a PR mod for the game that’s supposed to replace PR. But if that’s what it takes to survive and take things to the next step, somebody out there should definitely get on that. And not even in any spiteful or giving a middle finger way.

22/07:
So, now that I'm done with the preamble, we can get to the real meat in this... whatever this is. This next part is going to be even longer. Depending on you.

[Recommended soundtrack: What We Leave Behind by Scot Tobin]

What PR really means to me is: it's a vehicle for storytelling with other people. After a while they all mush together, but together, in a beautiful and heartwarming way. The people we meet. The moments we create. As much as I've written here: the emotional tirades and philosophical trains of thoughts I've led you through, all of it is supposed to make you think about your experiences with PR. My goal with this... piece... is to inspire you to tell your own version of this phenomenon we call PR. Maybe you call it something else, something not even I know about while typing this.

23/07:
When I started my PR journey back in 2015, I had no idea I would take things this far. A small part of me wanted to really embed itself in the community. I've always been a fan of the Battlefield games, but I've always enjoyed them as solo experiences. I watched the franchise become way too big for its own good, which is resulting in questionable decisions when it comes designing and shipping new games. I can rant on a longer piece than this on why things are just not right with BF.

So I just said to myself that I had enough. I found out that PR had become fully standalone, which was major reason to try it (again). It's kind of difficult to remember what I was really looking for and expecting out of this underground scene. But when I did start playing, I thought this was a logical evolution of what BF should've become. That's something you've either never thought about or something you realized years ago, but not thought about since. I felt like an idiot when I discerned it.

Also want to point out how hard for DICE must be to make new BF games because “everybody” is a BF veteran these days. People from different eras look for different things in them. So yeah... fuck BF.

For me PR chiseled this clear line of “before and after” starting to play it in my gaming “career”. I know other people who feel like this as well, even some who do it subconsciously. PR reshuffled my priorities of what I value about MP games. No BF is the same anymore. I've started soloing other MP games less and less. It's just boring without my friends.

I don’t think there will be many other games in my life that do this to me. Call it "the MMO effect" or whatever, but I would propose we are very lucky to have PR. It's a generational thing. Perfect base game, timing, and team who tapped into something and harnessed it. We've made it pretty far, farther than many. It's sad to look at some other great mods and how they've become these "weekend only" games where there's populated servers only on the weekends. I don't want to see PR become that. I don’t want to have to play COOP or nothing.

Maybe this view is a bit controversial, but I think PR is the best it's ever been... in terms of content, balance and systems. But the community aspect has declined more and more. And visibly so since I've been able to observe things first hand. If anything can end PR, it will probably be us: the community. Dramas, posturing, sniping and etc. are not what we need. I'm saving my energy for the darkest days... and for things like this.

27/07:
Originally I was going to publish this anonymously. It had more mystery behind it. That should tell you something about how I was approaching the whole thing. It was a bit cowardice. I realized I couldn’t and wouldn’t want to hide forever.

01/08:
For that reason, I say don’t even try to. Having opinions is fine. Having “wrong” opinions is also fine. Sharing, venting out and talking to other people about your problems is fine. A lot of fears and anxieties I have diminish every time I hear others describe them. People are often spot on on how I feel sometimes.

I’ve never heard anybody talk about this one, maybe you can help me. Or maybe I should seek actual help. Do you sometimes think you are more “emotional” at late hours in the day? Like when you go to bed and can’t fall asleep? You think about all the things you want to do and how you really feel about some people. Next morning those feelings and desires are diminished. You are back at being your old self: boring and unwilling to do anything of actual worth.

Nights like those make me write this. If you feel the same way, even if not about PR, I would recommend talking to people. Anybody really. Have some faith in the fact that we are all the same on some level and can help each other.

I hope this whole article doesn’t come off as a self-righteous piece about... about only me. It is about me and my opinions. But it’s meant to give out... something to out there. I can write more and tack on more topics. I realize there’s already a lot of them here, mushed and condensed into a mess. Somebody better than me can break these down to smaller pieces and package them in a more digestible manner, but that’s not gonna me.

23/07:
So, that's it. By all means, feel free to respond if you disagree, have questions or anything similar. I'm listening (I crave the attention). Write it down below or send me a private message on halid.yusein@gmail.com

I'm looking forward to your story of how you got into this mess. I will read it all, probably over and over. I love people’s anecdotes about “the good old days”. I want to believe this is the start of a conversation.

This is where you step in, please do so,
Deviro

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Old 2019-08-08, 20:57   #2
DogACTUAL

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Default Re: 7K words about PR and me

Right in the feels man. Now i am even more depressed, thanks.

Do you have more details on what happened between EA/DICE and Trauma studios? I heard about the it too but would like more juicy details. Also agree on the 'MMO' effect PR has, i mean say what you want about the community and DEVs etc. but the game still is unique.

Not only did the DEVs totally throw off the CAS/AA balance and make TOWs useless against tanks, no that was not enough. They also had to introduce their most controversial change yet, a 16 character limit on player names.
------------------
''Mats literally does not give a single fuck what you, me or everybody else thinks the game should be like. He doesn't care if you, me or everybody else plays the game even.'' - Frontliner
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Old 2019-08-09, 11:34   #3
Deviro
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Do you have more details on what happened between EA/DICE and Trauma studios? I heard about the it too but would like more juicy details.
I wish I knew. I haven't really encountered anything concrete about that stuff. Details about how things worked around that time are a bit murky. GiantBomb's wiki says they wanted the team to move over to the Stockholm studio, but they declined (they were based in the USA mostly). It's not properly sourced though.

You would have to talk to somebody like Frank DeLise, head of Trauma. He went to Autodesk and is now part of Nvidia's AI team. One of the few people who you can track down. Some members went on to create Ravaged after/around THQ's closure in 2012.

You also have to keep in mind how DICE had more studios before they got fully acquired by EA, before BF2142 was released in 2006. Most notably DICE Canada which developed BF Vietnam.

EA changed the whole culture around that company after that (Frostbite, Bad Company, F2P).
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Old 2019-09-27, 01:19   #4
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I do not wanna make 7K words, but I read yours, and you leave me touched. I play PR since 2008 and it is an essential part of my life, which can not just be replaced by something else or an other game. I feel the same like you although - due to my nature - I do not feel as depressed as you seem - however you have the skill to put the things in the right words. Thanks for your writing!

So let me add some loose points:

a) I even bought SQUAD a while ago and did not even dare to take a look at it.. never logged in up to now. Before I will do it I will buy a new PC to have at least a good experience from the beginning. The day will come, when I take a look at it beyond twitch.

b) If you care for real-life stories that came to me via talking to PR players (and I did a lot) feel free to encourage me to tell you more. Like f.e. people telling from there real-life experiences as soldiers in the US army, going to Iraq, Afghanistan or Haiti (after the major earthquake 2010). I can even remember the maps and places in PR I played together with them, while they told their stories.

c) Take into account that even probably 2 generations of the community were undergoing major changes in their lifes in the time passing - having children, undergoing job changes and social changes etc. and consider that some of them are always returning after a long while. By the way - same story here in my life although I belong still to the ones being seen often on PR servers. The active community is turning small but standing on a fucking large base of people that alle have a relation to PR in some way.

d) Since I started playing, the PR releases together with the news and features updates and publishing (including graphical stuff and the millions of little details) on this website where handled in such a professional way, leaving me behind openmouthed about a highly perfectionist volunteer DEV scene up to now.

e) In the last 11 years no DEV member ever adressed me personally although I gave them several chances. I am even working professionally IT related - however not being a coder. But debugging shit is also something I had to learn. So if help is needed to keep the game development up, adress people like me.

f) I never managed in life to convince anyone to play PR for longer thus teaching me it is something people looking for a special thing, and I believe there are many of this kind of people that never heared of PR up to now. So if you have any ideas what dusty places could need some wordspreading about the existence of PR, feel free to recommend to do this or that...I do not hesitate to tryout stuff...

g) Just as you mention that you regret having found your way to PR a bit late, I can assure you I live since 10 years in a condition that freightens me that it could break away... it did not up to now


So this were not 7k words but still a lot... maybe enuff for tonight. Feel free to contact me if you like via PM. Lets not waste time and play PR instead... see you on the battlefield

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Old 2019-09-27, 20:26   #5
[R-CON]​mectus11
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e) In the last 11 years no DEV member ever adressed me personally although I gave them several chances. I am even working professionally IT related - however not being a coder. But debugging shit is also something I had to learn. So if help is needed to keep the game development up, adress people like me.
bruh nobody is stopping you from going the route of contributor -> dev.




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Old 2019-09-27, 23:16   #6
captainfuture

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bruh nobody is stopping you from going the route of contributor -> dev.
Tell me more... got a link?

I once underwent the registration process for that and did not even get an answer up to today...

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Old 2019-09-28, 00:49   #7
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Tell me more... got a link?

I once underwent the registration process for that and did not even get an answer up to today...
https://www.realitymod.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=388

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Old 2019-11-14, 22:11   #8
Sniperdog
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Hey, just wanted to drop in and say I found your post very touching, and I'm glad you opened up and talked about up about all the stuff above. Also very cool to see your timeline post, there's some great historical bits and details RE: PR's early days I didn't know about.

Having been inside for the whole journey RE: the Squad portions, I can tell you it's very interesting and helpful to see how that journey looked from the outside, a lot to learn and consider. Thanks for that.

I very much hope and wish that our team can build a game that lives up to what PR was for the yourself and others in the PR community, and continues to create that same kind of experience you and I had with PR for a whole new generation of gamers.

Best Wishes,
Will (Sniperdog / Merlin)






Will Stahl aka "Merlin" in the Squad community
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Old 2019-12-05, 18:44   #9
Deviro
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2 Thousand More Words

The part 2 that nobody reads


Thank you Captainfuture for your response.

While my original intention with this piece was to just respond to your kind reply, I decided to use this opportunity to talk about more stuff as well. Sorry it took me this long, but I don't like rushing these.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainfuture View Post
a) I even bought SQUAD a while ago and did not even dare to take a look at it.. never logged in up to now. Before I will do it I will buy a new PC to have at least a good experience from the beginning. The day will come, when I take a look at it beyond twitch.
Before I get to the bad stuff, I wanted to say that I definitely think you should try it. As much negativity will come from me below, I still encourage everybody who has the means, time and friends to try SQUAD. In the last 2 months, I've been enjoying the game more and more. Admittedly with friends from PR.

SQUAD is really starting to look like something more complete, it's its own thing and as more time passes that will become more apparent I think. It's becoming less of a clone of PR but I don't know if that's a good thing.

As I've maybe alluded to earlier (in part 1) we are in a transitional period right now. We've been in it for 3+ years now and I don't see any clear resolution to it. SQUAD was supposed to replace PR, but it hasn't. PR hasn't died and SQUAD hasn't succeeded. People like me are stuck in between trying to really figure out what's the best course of action.

PR v1.6 will revitalize the game for some time, but to what extent and length is yet to be seen. WW2 and things like that are giving more content to a game that needs more than that. And SQUAD not getting its shit together doesn't help it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainfuture View Post
g) Just as you mention that you regret having found your way to PR a bit late, I can assure you I live since 10 years in a condition that freightens me that it could break away... it did not up to now
Somebody can maybe correct me, but I feel like the fears the PR community faced 10 years ago were very different and had very different solutions to ours right now. People were afraid about external factors, like EA and GameSpy. Now it's internal issues, biggest of which is:

"What if nobody cares anymore? How do we solve that?"

Apparently not with writing 7 thousand words. When I wrote this thing, I really thought this will move some people, important people. But then nothing. I got pretty "mad" and wrote this like a journal entry 10 days later:

"I worked really hard on that. I put my soul into it. The payoff has been a lot less satisfying than I thought it would be. I don't really care about the "views" or whatever it gets, but that's remained the only metric by which I can judge its "popularity". And those numbers speak louder than the few comments I've gotten about it: people don't care."

Now, you would be
right to tell me I was selfish and naïve with the expectations I had. Or my gut
reaction to the non-reaction. But what I've realized since then is that one off
efforts like mine don't mean anything in the grand scheme. Consistent throughput
is what people look for.

Or maybe I'm wrong on that too. Maybe what I wrote was just not good enough. Or didn't hand it in the right people's hands.

[Recommended soundtrack: Track 19 by Aphex Twin]

With all that said I want to transition into some other matters. Things that might taint the "reputation" of the original essay, but if I keep quiet, things wouldn't sit right with me. Things that also might contradict some points, but you know, people change and their opinions as well.

PRTA IRL event
I want to talk a little bit about the PRTA IRL event that took place at the end of August. During and especially after the event a question kept popping off in my head:

"Why are we still doing this any of this?"

Because I did see the passion people had about PR in there. In a way I consider myself lucky to be part of a niche "community" like this, rather than a mega franchise like R6: Siege where I would be nothing.

When people started talking about anecdotes or just general discussion about the state of PR, I had to stop myself and think "OMG, real people, out there, right now in front of me know about PR. And care about it, just like me. We are all nerds here."

Moments like those have been experienced by many in many different fields of hobbies. But for me that was the first real proof that people cared about PR. I didn't have a normal childhood (check the second image from last post and this video I made about the IRL event itself), but the few short periods I was given the opportunity to feel like everybody else, I took em and remember them fondly. This event was one of them. Even with all of the slightly alienating moments throughout it.

Tournaments and events
And while that sounds rosy and peachy, I can't ignore the online side of things, where the majority of activity happens in PR.

I'm super appreciative the devs are working on more content (1.6 and beyond). We have servers to play on every day. The Contact tournament is a thing that the whole hardcore community rallies around. I'm glad these things exist.

But the things we have lost or didn't manage to cultivate enough are real bummers. Like the official PRT tournament. Once upon a time there used to be more tournaments around. Even outside leagues stepping in offering competitions within PR. That was a while ago.

That's the high-level clan activity we lost. Then there's the low-level stuff where there's less events going on around these days. PRTA is the main organizer of them and only one capable of doing them on a non-regular basis.

Community efforts like those keep the populous entertained. Is there something new to see? Interesting, experimental maybe? Those are the questions players should be asking themselves. Most of them don't really pop off in my head when an event is announced though.

And that's not really me blaming people. Some of them good friends of mine. And that's not me saying clan activity is dead. There's plenty of clans "raiding" the servers and doing their thing (asset whoring :P). But those things are a sign of an overall community's health.

YouTube videos
And then there're things I wish we had more of, people like Bluedrake42 who inspired others like me to create content around the game. I still fully don't understand why he left PR the way he did. Sometimes I think my brain is too small to understand the two-way disdain he's had with everybody. I certainly always liked him. I think he is funny on a very self-aware level and with the way he's chosen to juggle 1000 different things, that rubs people off, even me on some occasions.

But the amount he's done and the passion he has for PR was never lost on me. Also, let's not turn this discussion about BD42. If you have a problem with the guy, solve it with him. My issue is with the lack of a YT scene around PR. And maybe I'm a little bit ignorant in this front, because I don't watch other people play PR. Cpt.MikeMei is probably the biggest one we have right now and that doesn't really compare to BD42's reach, does it?

The previous issues just make this one even worse. Contact tournament is cool, but there wasn't much content around it. Good content requires a lot of effort. A montage like mine or Mike's takes like a day or 2 to make. And spoilers: our content is bottom of the barrel.

Well-paced and edited videos about events, battles and tournaments require a lot more care. But if we have no occasions to document, stuff like this doesn't have a reason to exist anyway. It's a chicken and an egg problem.

I've been thinking about a podcast for example (steal this if you want to), but what would be in it anyway? Weekly news? What news is there? Discussion about mechanics and content? That's just boring and tutorials and guides can cover that. What could be cool is profiling players.

Having a discussion with them about their experience and what not. I've always liked talking to people and wanted to interview them and a podcast might not be the worst avenue to do that.

WoW Classic
Speaking of a community, let's talk a little bit about World of Warcraft and Blizzard fans. I will try to tie things to PR neatly here and you will see why and how.

You might've seen Blizzard in the news recently. I'm not here to talk about that today, but rather a little bit of history. Some people might not realize this, but if you really go back in time, gaming content on YT and Twitch was built by a lot of Blizzard fans. The eSports side of it really propelled people to make content.

But there was also the WoW side of it. It was such a big game and a phenomenon that detailed guides in the form of videos were an inevitable thing to make and watch as a fan. And all of that, especially with the rise of video and live streaming technology evolving rapidly.

That community, Blizzard, and those franchises bred a specific and special community around itself that is still around today, on a much more senior level, within Twitch, high-level streamers, YouTubers and eSports organizations. They are all grown up people now, who make a living of off video games.

This is not me saying Blizzard's fans and related eSports personalities built the whole YouTube and Twitch gaming cottage industry. I'm aware of the impact shooters like CS and Quake had and the people who came from those scenes who've also contributed large efforts into making this specific aspect of gaming special. Not to mention the second wave of COD and Minecraft "influencers". Back on topic...

With all that said it was very interesting for me to see those old school people's reaction to WoW Classic. A game that was a lot more hardcore than today's WoW. A game that encouraged teamwork and interaction with other people in order to progress through it.

The positive reaction it got surprised everybody. Blizzard told everybody they didn't want a game like this and most were sceptical such a product could succeed, but it worked. Selling the same game 15 years later worked!

So, this is where the two topics collide and join back up to PR:
? Breeding a future proof culture around your game and
? Doing things the old school way

The Meat
I think there's a great deal we can learn from the WoW fandom and the experiment that's succeeded with WoW Classic.

I think I can relate to old time WoW fans who think their MMO has lost some of its charm and "hardcore-ness" to it overtime. To wanting to go back to the basics per se. I never touched WoW, but man, some of the anecdotes I've heard makes me want to have wanted to play it back in the day. Admittedly, I was 10 when WoW came out.

The closest experience I've had with MMOs is DayZ. Don't laugh! But for like a few days I was totally hooked up on that game and something always brings me back to it for some reason. The social aspect, peer pressure and loot grinding of it is something else. Sure, WoW and DayZ are very different games, but they share some aspects that link them very closely.

I think it's pretty obvious by my love to PR, that I always longed for something special, to belong to a place. WoW could've been that. But it wasn't meant to be. I chose Battlefield and therefore PR - the ultimate evolution of what BF should be.

Cons
With keeping all that in mind, let's ask the question: Will anybody choose SQUAD to be their one special game in life? Many will actually. Most of them never getting the chance to get into PR for timing reasons. As I said at the top in my reply to Captainfuture, I've been playing SQUAD a lot more recently, more than ever actually. And surprisingly enjoying myself.

And while all that's been happening I stumbled upon this. Basically, the OP claims that OWI changed their minds on what SQUAD was to become and when we, the PR community, found out about it and pushed back, they started ignoring us in ways that seem incredibly unprofessional for someone to deal with their fanbase. Especially one they owe so much to, like a successful Kickstarter for example.

Even if half of that is true, it doesn't make them look good. I understand plans change. A lot of promises have been dropped from the original KS campaign. But turning your back on your original fanbase in this way is unacceptable. There's been some dodgy stuff going around this game for forever and we've all put up with it. Because if they keep their promise to make a worthy replacement to PR it would all be forgiven and brushed under the rug.

After reading that though, I don't know how much I trust OWI. It just makes them seem even more "evil" after the public incidents that happened with first Post Scriptum and then the way they shunted away Bluedrake42. Who helped them a great deal very early on, when they needed him the most.

It explains their focus on eSports, which to me seems completely unnecessary so early on. Let me tell you what pros really like - stability, depth and a high skill ceiling. All of those points are still up for grabs as of now. Mechanics and balance are regularly broken and we don't know what the final game will look like before we can judge how competitively viable a game like SQUAD is. Not everything needs to be an eSport and not everything can. Especially when your product is not ready for it.

Squad leaders, again
If I didn't make this clear in part 1 then let's talk about it again a little bit. The more I play PR and SQUAD the more apparent it becomes for me the importance of squad leaders in this whole equation. For newer players they are the front face of the game. They determine how deep you will sink the game and how fast that will happen.

If a squad isn't lead at all the game just becomes an unorganized, free for all mess like BF. But a good SL can structure and dictate pace and therefore enjoyment for all of his subordinates.

The lack of SLs "killed" my clan, the community beloved Foxtrot. I use quotations, because we are not really dead, but not very alive either, like PR itself. A consistent availability of SLs keep people engaged with the game and make them want to come back for more.

I want to mention names here, but I would rather let you ponder on this as well - the people who you looked up to very early on for guidance. Some names I can't even remember now. God, saying and having to admit that makes me feel ungrateful for all the effort they put into a random pleb like me all that time ago.

How you keep those SLs in your rank/community is the real question I've been pondering, but not able to answer in many sleepless nights. It's a cultural and community issue.

There're so many philosophies out there on how a squad should be lead. Some are super strict and micro manage-y. Others rely more on individually skilled players. Some think the SL is like a dungeon master - letting the people around him have fun and accomplish goals. And these are just from inf SLs I've encountered in PR (as I'm not a very big fan of vehicles).

Conclusion
So that's where we are. Nothing has changed really. I'm still not convinced SQUAD will manage to become a self-sustaining entity of its own, at least in a much bigger way than PR was at its height. Which is what we always wanted SQUAD to become - the next chapter.

If anything, the things I talked above give me less hope. And those are things I've just stumbled upon. I don't seek this shit. I'm not trying to sabotage SQUAD while praising PR.

At least the choppers and commander role are here. Oh and Athena, the SQUAD mod inspired by PR, trying to make SQUAD a bit more like PR, the way it should be, proven by OWI devs. There's some hope there. Some.

Hope.
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Old 2019-12-05, 21:22   #10
selman

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Default Re: 7K words about PR and me

i am planing to play pr until it dies, after that i would move on to bf3 reality mod.

i love pr but lately its been a hardship to find a good squad, even if you find one, the rest of the other teams are just yoloying.

butt yeah if somebody made some videos, where the y picked up some players or devs and talked about those things, it would gather people even if none of the dev would participated but what do i know......
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